BUTTYSON KANDIMBA, Solwezi
SOMETIMES ideas may develop in oneâ€™s mind but lack of access to funds is what limits some brilliant ideas coming to fruition.
Undoubtly, there are so many ideas out there that have either merely remained on paper collecting dust or have continued to linger in the minds of those who dream to bring ideas to reality.
However, the youth have seen the positive impact that the youth development fund has had in the lives of many young people across the country.
For Sylvester Kalongo, 27 of Mwinilunga, he got a loan of K20,000 loan and he is positive that the funds will go towards growing his computer company.
He said the funds will go a long way in boasting his business as the money will go towards the purchase of more equipment.
â€œI just want to say thank you to the government because these funds will help me acquire more equipment. Looking at our customer base we will be able to meet the demand and also create employment for my fellow youths because currently I only have two staff,â€ Mr Kalongo said.
Another beneficiary Livo Munki, 35 from Kasempa who got K10,000 said she now believes that the fund is real and urged other women to apply for the youth development fund.
Ms Munki said the funds will help her grow her tailoring business because she will now be able to buy a new sewing machine and materials to make School uniforms for pupils when Schools open in January.
Evidently, the youth development fund is impacting positively in the lives of many young people across the country.
According to the 2010 Census of Population and Housing, Zambiaâ€™s population was estimated to be at 13.1 million people of whom 4.7 million were the youth aged between 15 and 34 years, making up approximately 40 percent of the countryâ€™s total population.
And of the 4.7 million young people in the country, North-Western Province had 262,000 youths making up 5.8 percent of the total youth population in the country.
However, this number is expected to have significantly risen due to a number of reasons among them the high fertility rate which is estimated to be at 5.3 percent and the booming economic activities in the Province especially in the mining sector.
Despite the youth making up the biggest portion of the countryâ€™s population, young people have continued to face a number of challenges that hinder them from fully participating in national development.
Among these challenges include limited access to education and skills training opportunities, limited access to factors of production such as land and finances for capital and limited employment opportunities.
This is why government initiated the youth development fund with the objective of lending finance to viable projects run by the youth.
Recently, Government disbursed a total of K1,038,000 to 46 successful youth cooperatives and associations for the 2015 youth development fund in North-Western Province.
Speaking at the handover ceremony of cheques to beneficiaries in Solwezi, Youth, Sport and Child Development permanent secretary Agness Musunga said government is aware of the challenges youths in the country are facing and is committed to resolve them.
Ms Musunga revealed that government has disbursed funds amounting to K43 million to 1,300 youth led enterprises across the country since 2012.
â€œOut of these, 105 youth corporative and associations from North-Western Province have been funded in the last three years to a tune of K3.4 million and today will bring the total of groups funded to 151 with a total value of funded projects in four years to K4.5 million,â€ she said.
She urged the beneficiaries to be accountable with the funds and ensure they pay back loans so that other youths can access the money.
Ms Musunga also said in addition to the youth development fund, government has since identified quick win projects for creating empowerment and employment opportunities for the youth in the country.
She said government has made a decision to only award the Pave Zambia 2,000 road project contracts to enterprises run by the youth and women as a way of empowering them.
â€œAll associated works for this project such as supplying of pavers and other building materials shall also be supplied by women and the youth,â€ she said.
The permanent secretary also said government is developing specialised youth resettlement schemes that provide land to the youth that want to venture into agriculture for their improved and sustainable livelihood.
â€œCurrently, this project is being piloted at the former Mwange refugee camp in Mporokoso district in Northern Province,â€ Ms Musunga said.
She said currently, government has demarcated the place into 518 plots of three hectares each, opened up access roads using the Rural Roads Unit (RRU) and repaired 20 boreholes for the supply of safe and clean drinking water to settlers.
â€œFurthermore, we are in the process of connecting the centre to the national power grid, rehabilitate the old schools used by refugees for purpose of using them into faculties of youth skills training centre, constructing four student hostels and 19 staff houses as well as rehabilitate the health centre with a view of turning it into a zonal referral health centre,â€ Ms Musunga said.
She said as at 30th September, 2015,183 youths from across the country have been resettled at the centre and are actively engaged in agriculture activities such as vegetable production, animal and chicken rearing among others.
Ms Musunga said the land is being given free of charge and called upon all the youth wishing to be resettled at Mwange to get the application forms from the office of provincial permanent secretaries countrywide.
She also explained that other interventions government is undertaking include empowerment of youth street vendors to provide capacity building to street vendors in terms of training, finance and equipment in order to make their businesses sustainable and profitable.
Ms Musunga added that government through the Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF) is implementing a programme to establish 2,000 solar powered milling plants throughout the country which will be loaned out to well organised cooperatives and urged the youth to position themselves to participate in the programme by forming cooperatives.
She also said government is in the process of launching a scheme for the empowerment of youth members of the public and private drivers association of Zambia where youth bus drivers will receive buses on loan basis for their economic empowerment and decent job creation.
â€œThe buses will be assigned to designated routes and in most cases in rural areas that are underserviced taking advantage of the new roads to be constructed under the link Zambia 2000,â€ Ms Musunga said.
And North-Western Province permanent secretary Amos Malupenga said demand for the youth development fund loans in the province is very high and appealed to the relevant ministry to increase the allocation for the province.
In a speech read for him by his deputy Alfred Chiingi, the permanent secretary said this is because the province has continued to see an influx of young people due to ongoing economic activities taking place in the region.
If more youth put to good use the youth development fund, it will obviously impact positively on their lives as well as benefit the economy.
BUTTYSON KANDIMBA, Solwezi